And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
– Romans 5:3-5
Suffering produces endurance…endurance produces character…character produces hope.
These are not the words that I would share with someone going through a trying time. “I’m sorry your loved one is dying but know that you are growing in character as a result of it!” Not exactly the thing to say. But there is such deep truth to Paul’s words here. There are many circumstances that I can look back and see the way that a time of trial or suffering has led to something where I grew in a way I did not expect, or I saw something of God that was transformative, or simply that I realized that there was more going on. That doesn’t make me want to have that trial again but I can see the path that my life took as a result of that trial.
I wish I could say that I could look back at every circumstance in life and see how these steps came to pass in each one of them. I cannot. I cannot see that in many things in life – things that have happened (and are happening) to people I know and love and to those I will never know personally. I go before God in lament asking for God to intervene, to provide, to restore, to heal, to reveal. But still I pray. I pray for growth and change and ultimately for hope to be revealed regardless of the circumstance.
Advent is an appropriate time to be wrestling with this. Christmas, regardless of what the stores tell us, is not here. The child has not yet been born. We are still in the waiting, in the labor pains, in the revealing. Come Lord Jesus come.